Admiring the Sonora Shay, engine #7
Just north of Santa Cruz in a little town called Felton there is a great little place for train lovers called Roaring Camp Railroads. There you can ride a steam train running on old narrow gauge tracks used long ago for the logging industry.
"All aboard!" and ready to go
My favorite part - the redwoods were magnificent
Every year Roaring Camp Railroads hosts a Thomas the Tank Engine event where they dress up one of their trains in a Thomas facade and ferry passengers through redwood forests. Children are mad about Thomas, so you can imagine the reaction of hundreds of little kids who see a life-sized Thomas puffing and pulling passenger cars from the station.
Passing over a bridge is always interesting... and a challenge to keep Ronan inside the car
The obligatory Thomas photo op... we had to wait in line for this
In addition to taking a ride the festival has lots of other activities set up for little Thomas acolytes. Nieve's favorite was the instant tattoo of Thomas characters - she got Rosie on her right bicep and was very proud of it. She was so proud, in fact, that when she saw a big, burley biker covered with tats in the grocery store she got his attention, pointed to her arm while grunting, and showed him that she too was 'legit' with her train tat. He even cracked a smile at her pluck.
"See this? Yeah, that's Rosie. Don't mix it up."
The kids playing with one of the props
Ronan was clearly ensorcelled by the large engines - he was less impressed with Thomas than he was with the steaming and greasy Sonoma Shay. He astutely observed the elevated water tank and let me know that it was used to fill the boiler of the steam engines. The loud hissing was a bit much for his sensitive ears but he covered them with his hands and kept enjoying the big engine.
Yeah, these machines are a bit loud
Grammy and Poppa came with us, so Ronan's other favorite activity of the day was laying down toy railroad tracks with Poppa. Poppa also treated Ronan to a new toy engine (Toby) so Ronan was able to run it over the route the two of them designed and built.
Poppa and Ronan engineering
"Thanks for joining us Grammy & Pappa!"
Nieve preferred to hang with Grammy, making her serve as a steady hand for Nieve's rock hopping adventures. Mom and I loved watching Nieve keep trying to mastering climbing the rocks while poor Grammy was stooped over, patient as she always is with her grandchildren.
Stone hopping! Lots of fun for Nieve, tiring for Grammy
The kids had a blast - it was a great way to spend a day and we're already planning a trip back (even if Thomas is not featured). For those with little ones who love trains this is an event not to be missed!
A happy but worn out family